Shiyan Hu Named Editor-In-Chief for IET Cyber-Physical Systems: Theory and Application

Shiyan Hu, ECE Associate Professor and Center for Cyber-Physical Systems Director
Shiyan Hu, ECE Associate Professor and Center for Cyber-Physical Systems Director
by Allison Mills
Cyber-physical systems include smart washing machines, self-driving cars, medical devices and smart grid meters. As our digital worlds become more than handheld, researchers seek to get a better understanding of the interface between cyberspace and tangible elements.

Shiyan Hu (ECE) is an expert in cyber-physical systems and cybersecurity, and is Director of Center for Cyber-Physical Systems at Michigan Tech Institute of Computer and Cybersystems. Recently, the Institute of Technology (IET) launched a new journal Cyber-Physical Systems: Theory & Application, [http://digital-library.theiet.org/content/journals/iet-cps] and appointed Hu as the founding editor-in-chief. IET is the largest engineering society in Europe with more than 180,000 members and Hu will lead a team of associate editors who are leading experts worldwide, including several from Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, University of Illinois, National Taiwan University and University of Tokyo.

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) addresses the close interactions and feedback loop between the cyber components (such as embedded sensing systems) and the physical components (such as energy systems) in a system. The exemplary CPS research topics include smart energy systems, smart home/building/community/city, connected and autonomous vehicle system, smart health, etc. This IET journal is dedicated to all aspects of the fundamental and applied research in the design, implementation and operation of CPS systems, considering performance, energy, user experience, security, reliability, fault tolerance, flexibility and extensibility. Its scope also includes innovative big data analytics for cyber-physical systems such as large-scale analytical modeling, complex stochastic optimization, statistical machine learning, formal methods and verification, and real-time intelligent control which are all critical to the success of CPS developments.

As an elected Fellow of IET, Prof. Hu leads this journal and also chairs IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (www.ieee-cps.org), an authoritative constituency overseeing all CPS related activities within IEEE. He has published more than 100 research papers (about 30 in the premier IEEE Transactions), received numerous awards recognizing his research impact to the field, and served as associate editor or guest editor for 7 IEEE/ACM Transactions. More information can be found at http://www.ece.mtu.edu/faculty/shiyan/

Alumni Reunion and ECE Academy, Class of 2016

Charles Rogers '78 (left) and Richard Ford '77, ECE Academy, Class of 2016. Missing from photo is Shankar Mukherjee '86.
Charles Rogers ’78 (left) and Richard Ford ’77, ECE Academy, Class of 2016. Missing from photo is Shankar Mukherjee ’86.
Welcome to a special Monday edition of Fridays with Fuhrmann!

Last week was the week of alumni reunions at Michigan Tech. In the ECE Department we began Wednesday evening with our biennial induction ceremony for the ECE Academy, which is our “hall of fame” for ECE alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers, whether through technical contributions, business and entrepreneurship, or professional service. We inducted three new members into the Academy this year. Shankar Mukherjee, MS ’86, is an entrepreneur who lives in Cupertino, California, and is currently very busy with his latest venture, Dhaani Systems. In fact, Shankar is so busy that he had to cancel his trip to Houghton at the last minute and attend to an emergency situation with potential buyers in India! Fortunately, we were able to Skype him in (at 5:30am his time) and the ceremony moved forward smoothly. Rich Ford, BS ’77, is a power engineer who spent his entire career with Consumers Power, now Consumers Energy, in downstate Michigan. Rich started out as an engineer and moved his way up through the ranks, finishing his career with stints at VP of Energy Delivery, VP of Generation Operations, and VP of Transmission. Charles Rogers, BS ’78, also spent his career with Consumers Energy. (They must take good care of their employees.) Charles’ many contributions were more in the areas of standards and compliance, and he spent a fair amount of time in service activity on task forces and committees on standards for system protection and maintenance. We are of course very proud of our new Academy members and will be very happy to see their smiling faces on the wall in the entryway to the EERC.

Thursday was a day with lots of university-wide activities for returning Huskies. This normally includes a pasty picnic in the late afternoon, on the grounds between the EERC and the ChemSci Building. For the first time in my memory the picnic was moved indoors based on the prediction of violent thunderstorms with almost 100% certainty, but in a cruel twist of fate, 4:00 p.m. rolled around and there was not a cloud in the sky. It’s been a while since I have seen a weather prediction that wrong. The irony is that, for the most part, this summer has been fabulously beautiful in the Copper Country. We all enjoyed our picnic in the MUB anyway. I got to wander around, eat too much (who eats a big meal at 4pm?) and make lots of new friends.

Friday afternoon we had an open house in the ECE Department for alumni interested in our educational and research activities. After some opening socializing in our 5th floor lounge, we took the group on a tour of our teaching labs and research facilities in the EERC, with the tour led by ECE undergraduate academic advisor Judy Donahue (thank you Judy!). I like to think that everyone came away with a good impression of what we are trying to do here.

Why do we go to all this effort? Obviously, like a lot of universities, we want to keep our alumni connected with Michigan Tech, socially and emotionally. It makes us all feel part of a larger community, a community with a sense of history and mission. We depend on our alumni in a lot of ways, not only for the generous charitable contributions that support our students and help us to grow our programs, but for the generous gift of their time and valuable advice. Showing off what we do for people who have been out in the world, for 20, 30, even 50 years or more, really helps us to focus our efforts. We are quick to remind our alumni that they carry the Husky brand with them wherever they go, so that our continued success is their success as well, just as their success is a positive reflection on the university. We like to brag to our alumni, of course, but at the same time we are inspired by them. Seeing all the wonderful things they have accomplished gives us a lot of motivation to get up in the morning and do it all over again, preparing the next generation of engineers. Having those same alumni come back to Houghton, and express their gratitude to us for the difference we have made in their lives, makes these events that much more special.

To all our Husky alumni – thank you for everything you have done to make us look good! Keep up the good work!

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University

Bos and Middlebrook elected Senior Members of SPIE

ECE Profs. Jeremy Bos (L) and Christopher Middlebrook
ECE Profs. Jeremy Bos (L) and Christopher Middlebrook

ECE Assistant Professor Jeremy Bos and Associate Professor Christopher Middlebrook have been elected to the grade Senior Member of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Each year SPIE recognizes accomplishments and meritorious service in the optics, photonics, optoelectronics, and imaging communities. The ECE Department congratulates Bos and Middlebrook for this prestigious designation. For more information see SPIE.

Burrell awarded SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship

Burrell_SPIEscholarship_20160707Derek Burrell (ECE) has been awarded a 2016 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics for his potential contributions to the field of optics, photonics or related field.

Burrell is an Electrical and Computer Engineering undergraduate student at Michigan Technological University working toward a BS in electrical engineering with a concentration in photonics. He has academic and industrial experience in the fabrication and testing of optical interconnects, design of photometric simulations and creation of light-based models for virtual reality systems. His research interests include telecommunications, digital image processing and materials characterization. The scholarship will provide $3,000 toward tuition and research funding for the 2016-2017 academic year. Derek is the current president of the Michigan Technological University SPIE Student Chapter.

Burrell was also recently selected by Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) for a $2,500 research fellowship that will begin Fall 2016 and concentrate on free-space optical communications.

Derek plans to pursue an MS in optical engineering after graduation.

For more information regarding the 2016 scholarship awards see SPIE.

STEM & M (music)

Performing with Steve Jones & The Garden City Hot Club

Just for fun, I thought I would write about music this week.

As most of my friends and acquaintances know, music has always been a big part of my life. I started classical piano lessons at age 6, learned about jazz in high school, and have been a semi-professional musician on the side all my adult life. I play keyboards in a variety of styles – jazz, popular, salsa, blues – and have a great time doing it. Oddly enough, I have found as many opportunities to play publicly in the tiny little communities of Houghton and Hancock as I have anywhere I have lived!

A lot of people I meet say something like, “wow, that’s so unusual, you can be both an engineer and a musician!” Actually, it’s not that unusual at all. I know a lot of engineers, especially electrical engineers, who have music as a hobby. On the back cover of the latest edition of the The Circuit, our alumni magazine, there is a photo taken at the annual Christmas party of seven ECE faculty members who are also musicians (plus one student, a drummer who was there at the time and who just graduated and took a job with Black & Veatch.) I think there is a natural connection between the two. Electrical engineers have a natural affinity for concepts like signals, systems, frequency, harmonic analysis, etc. and so we “get” a lot of the physics of sound and the organization of music. The craft of music is rather abstract, and a bit mathematical, and we engineers like that stuff. In academics, we are all performance artists in the classroom anyway, so getting over our stage fright and hamming it up come naturally.

It is reasonable to ask, did the engineering influence the music or was it the other way around? In my case, I did well in both piano lessons and in math as a young boy, and as I got into electrical engineering in college, I realized that a lot of concepts I was seeing in communication theory and related courses were a piece of cake, because of that musical training.  So I think in my case the music really did have an influence on the path I chose professionally, and it is no accident that I went into signal processing as my technical area of expertise. On the other hand, we have the example of Tim Schulz, our former chair and dean who, after coming back into the ECE Department as a regular faculty member, decided to take up guitar as the first musical experience of his life. He has taken to it like a fish to water, and is loving every minute. So, I suppose it goes both ways.

I am writing about this not just to toot my own horn (no pun intended), but rather to make a point about the importance of performing arts in K-12 education. I love art and music so I am perfectly happy with the notion of ars gratia artis, that is, arts education is valuable in and of itself. However, even if one were to push singlemindedly for STEM education because of its importance to our national economic development, I would still claim that arts education cannot be overlooked.  There is something about the training that goes along with learning music that enhances the mind and opens it up to math and science.  Students who practice their instruments 30 minutes or an hour a day learn the discipline they need to master other academic fields. By participating in band and orchestra they learn teamwork and cooperation, and in a beautiful way they also learn the value of diversity because of the way all the different instruments contribute to the whole. Perhaps most importantly, performing arts gives young people the opportunity to learn how to do something specific and concrete, and to demonstrate that they have mastered their skills in a public performance. The self-image and the confidence that goes along with that is invaluable. (The same argument can be applied to athletics, and I can see that too.) Engineering students don’t get a chance to do that until much later. So, I will always stand behind music and arts education as an important piece of STEM education.

Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend everyone! Get out there and support your local musicians!

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University

ECE Hosts SYP’s Women In Engineering Week

FWF_image_20160624
WIE participants learn soldering skills in the ECE teaching lab for their take-away Drawdio projects.

Fridays with Fuhrmann, June 24, 2016

This week Michigan Tech is hosting our Women in Engineering program, part of our larger Michigan Tech Summer Youth Programs. WIE is a high school program that brings young women with an interest in science and engineering to campus, and gives them a chance to investigate a variety of engineering careers across all disciplines. Participants work in teams on interesting and challenging engineering projects, get insight from role models working in industry, learn about the college application process, experience college life, and enjoy team competitions, entertainment, and outdoor activities. As an added bonus this year, the weather has been absolutely spectacular and so our guests get to see what a great place the Keweenaw can be in the summer.

We have about 360 young women coming through ECE Department in this year’s program. ECE Associate Chair Glen Archer organizes things at a high level, and ECE PhD student and soon-to-be graduate Jenn Winikus is in charge of implementing the program and really being the face of the ECE Department for the participants. I thank them both for their hard work and outstanding efforts.

I have touched on this in previous columns, but it bears repeating that bringing more women into engineering fields, especially electrical and computer engineering, remains an important and perplexing problem. Our undergraduate female enrollment in the ECE Department has hovered around 10% for many years. Recent trends point to a slight increase, but we are nowhere near the percentage of female college enrollment overall, or even in engineering. We spend a lot of time wondering why this should be the case, and what we can do about it.

The first question that one unfamiliar with our field might ask is, are young women scared off because they cannot handle the rigors of an electrical engineering education? The answer to that is an unequivocal no, and in fact the suggestion of such a thing would be considered offensive around here. There is no evidence to suggest that women are any less capable in math, science, and engineering topics and engineering design skills than their male counterparts, in fact all of our everyday experience here points to a strong capable group of women making their way through our programs just like the men. They engage in all of our educational and leadership programs and are highly recruited by industry. Some might suggest there is a “confidence gap”, in which women who struggle with the material lose confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve success. While this can certainly happen, I see it just as often with some of our male students who aren’t getting it and decide to take a different path. Michigan Tech is making a major effort to support students, both men and women, who need a little extra push to be successful in their first year or two and continue in the program. How much we should be doing is a matter of some debate, but on the whole I am supportive of efforts to see our students gain the confidence they need to succeed in our educational programs and enter the engineering workforce.

So, if ability is not the issue, then could it be interest? Some say that women are more interested in the “helping professions”, which might explain the much popularity of programs in biomedical engineering and environmental engineering. Personally, I reject this notion.  What could be more “helping” than providing reliable electrical power to an entire population, providing reliable worldwide communication, developing the technologies that keep our soldiers safe abroad and our citizens secure at home, or designing a wide array of products for the audio and visual entertainment? Perhaps we need to work harder to educate everyone on all the ways that electrical and computer engineers have helped humanity. Even as you read this, you are taking advantage of technology developed over the past decades by thousands of electrical engineers, and as you walk away from your computer and turn to other activity, chances are you are going to pick up something else that has ECE fingerprints all over it. We help, we really do!

Maybe there is something about the profession itself that women find unattractive. This, outside of just not knowing what the opportunities are, is the argument that makes the most sense. It is true that electrical engineering (and mechanical engineering too) are fields that are dominated by men. Young women surveying that landscape simply may not see a place for themselves and their future. Women can look at biologists, doctors, or biomedical engineering, and easily project themselves into those professions because there is so much parity already. The workplace environment just looks so much more inviting in those fields. Stories about the “brogramming” culture in Silicon Valley don’t help much either. There is plenty of work to be done to make sure that our workplaces and our educational institutions are places that are welcoming to all, and a little extra effort is needed in electrical engineering to make that obvious, as it should be, when it comes to women.

It comes down to a chicken and egg problem – the fields of electrical and computer engineering need to attract more women, and the way to do that is for the fields of electrical and computer engineering to have more women in them. While we continue to struggle to reach a “tipping point” in this regard, we do what we can, like hosting the Women in Engineering program and diversifying the concentrations in our educational programs. More importantly, we need to be vigilant in maintaining a constant awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion, and I am beginning to realize that inclusion is the more important piece of the two. It is not enough to bring people with a variety of gender and ethnic backgrounds into the organization; all people must feel like that are part of the inside group, making decisions and being responsible for the success of the organization. I see that here at Michigan Tech and I am certain it is an issue in engineering workplaces nationwide. This is an area where I will push for change as long as I am ECE chair at Michigan Tech.

Speaking of which – and I’ll close with this – last week I signed my reappointment letter which keeps me in this position for four more years (I have one year remaining in my current term, and will start a new 3-year term in 2017.) I look forward to serving Michigan Tech and the ECE Department, and continuing to share my experiences with you.

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University

Oliveira gives invited talk at Federal University of Bahia-Brazil

Oliveira_UFBAtalk_20160613_editted
ECE Associate Professor Aurenice Oliveira

Aurenice Oliveira (ECE) gave an invited talk at Federal University of Bahia-Brazil (UFBA) on June 13, 2016. Dr. Oliveira talked about possibilities for research collaborations in communications, signal processing, and international education. She also gave an overview of study opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Oliveira had the opportunity to meet with several UFBA officials including the Vice President for Research and the International Office Director to discuss an international agreement between Michigan Tech and UFBA.

New Funding for Detection of Buried and Obscured Targets

Timothy Havens (ECE/ICC), is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $99,779 research and development grant from the U.S. Department of Defense-Army Research Office.

Joseph Burns (MTRI) and Timothy Schulz (ECE) are co-PIs on the project “Multisensor Analysis and Algorithm Development for Detection and Classification of Buried and Obscured Targets.”

This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $1,066,799.

From Tech Today, by Sponsored Programs.